National Grid prepared for snowstorm, frigid temperaturesby jmaloni
Company offers safety tips and information on carbon monoxide warnings
National Grid crews are prepared for a winter storm bearing down on the region tonight and into Wednesday. Forecasts are calling for substantial snow accumulations and high winds across large portions of the company's upstate New York service area, particularly the extreme north along the traditional snow belt areas south of Buffalo and along Lake Ontario valley areas to the north.
Forecasts are also calling for potentially dangerous temperatures and wind chills well below zero in most areas tonight and perhaps well into tomorrow.
"Our first concern is the safety of the public and our employees," said Kenneth Daly, president, National Grid New York. "We have been preparing for this event so we can assess damage and restore service as quickly as possible, but we also want the public to be prepared."
Safety is a No. 1 priority and, as the company manages its second severe weather event in two weeks, it is urging customers to watch out for their own well-being and the safety of utility crews working during the storm, especially by staying off slippery roads as crews work to restore outages as swiftly as possible.
While the most severe weather is predicted to occur tonight into Wednesday morning, National Grid began mobilizing additional crews and equipment resources early this week. The company is continuously monitoring the storm, communicating with local officials, first responders and life-support customers. It also is prepared to implement its incident command system, if necessary.
National Grid provides a number of channels for customers to learn about service issues and interruptions during storms. Customers can receive text message alerts and updates by texting the word STORM to NGRID (64743) or follow the storm on their mobile devices by using the National Grid mobile app. The company provides real time outage information on its "Outage Central" website at nationalgridus.com/OutageCentral.
Email alerts are also available to customers who create an online profile on the company's website. All alert services can be started and stopped at the customer's request. National Grid also provides storm and restoration updates through Facebook and Twitter.
National Grid advises customers to be prepared for service interruptions. It's a good idea to have a number of working flashlights, at least one battery-operated radio and an extra supply of batteries in your home. A radio is a good way to stay in touch, as National Grid provides news media with timely information regarding service restoration efforts.
National Grid is keeping safety a priority
National Grid offers the following tips for customers to minimize inconvenience and maximize safety in the event that storm-related power interruptions do occur.
•National Grid customers who experience outages should call National Grid's outage line at 1-800-867-5222 immediately to expedite restoration.
•Never touch downed power lines, and always assume that any fallen lines are live electric wires. If you see one, report it immediately to National Grid or your local emergency response organization.
•Power problems can sometimes interrupt public water supply systems or disable well pumps, so it's an especially good idea to keep a supply of bottled drinking water handy, as well as some canned food.
•People who depend on electric-powered life-support equipment, such as a respirator, should let National Grid know. To register as a life support customer, call the company's Customer Service Center at 1-800-642-4272.
•Check on elderly family members, neighbors and others who may need assistance during an outage period.
If you use a generator to supply power during an outage, be sure to operate it outdoors. Before operating generators, disconnect from National Grid's system by shutting off the main breaker located in the electric service panel. Failure to do this could jeopardize the safety of line crews and the public.
•If you lose power, turn off any appliances that were on when the power went off, but leave one light on so you will know when power is restored.
•Remember, it's not safe to work in an elevated bucket during periods of increased wind gusts. Our line workers begin restoration work only when conditions are deemed safe.
The buildup of ice and snow around or over gas meters and vents for natural gas appliances could pose a serious safety risk. Ice and snow falling from a roof can damage gas meters or service connections to customers' homes or businesses, resulting in a gas leak.
•Ice and snow blocking vents could cause carbon monoxide (CO) to back up into a building and result in carbon monoxide poisoning for those inside.
•To avoid these dangers, National Grid advises natural gas customers to closely inspect areas around and over gas meters, service hook-ups and vents for ice and snow that could damage equipment or prevent CO from properly venting.
•National Grid advises that you take immediate action anytime you suspect a natural gas leak:
Get Out - All occupants should leave the house immediately. Open windows to ventilate. Do not use the telephone or light switches for any reason.
Call Us - After leaving the house and reaching a safe environment, call the National Grid 24-hour gas emergency number: 1-800-892-2345 in upstate New York.
Stay Out - Do not return to your home until National Grid tells you it is safe.
The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are similar to those of the flu. Depending upon the amount of carbon monoxide in the air and length of exposure, symptoms may include headaches, weakness, confusion, chest tightness, skin redness, dizziness, nausea, sleepiness, fluttering of the heart or loss of muscle control.
•If you suspect carbon monoxide is present in your home, go outside immediately and breathe deeply; then call 911. If symptoms are severe, get medical attention right away.
Extreme cold temperatures
Cold stress, or hypothermia, occurs when exposure to extreme cold temperatures causes the body's temperature to fall below 95 degrees. Seek medical attention if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms:
- Skin that is cool to the touch
- Violent shivering
- Difficulty in speaking or moving
- Slowed breathing
- Sudden change in appearance or behavior
- Puffy or swollen face
- Trembling in arm, leg or one side of body
- Cold and stiff muscles
- Difficulty with coordination and balance
The following tips help to minimize potential cold stress:
- Dress properly
- Layer loose-fitting clothing
- Wear mittens instead of gloves
- Wear a hat and a scarf
- Avoid alcohol - it can increase your body's heat loss
- Remember that certain drugs can increase risk by affecting the body's ability to regulate its temperature
For more information, visit www.nationalgridus.com.